Thursday, November 27, 2008

Justice system ill equipped to handle mental illness

In the San Angelo Standard Times, a mother tells the tragic story of her son's mental illness and ultimate suicide, including numerous run ins with the law along the way. Lisa Hatch and her husband were both law enforcement officers, but that didn't stop the hand of fate from dealing their family this terrible blow. Her moving column urges parents to seek help early and never give up trying to help their child. She also expresses gratitude for the numerous law enforcement agencies who dealt with her son over the years: "We feel like he was treated well by those in charge of him ... Andrew was a bright, lovable soul, but he could frustrate a saint."

Hatch urges readers, "Tell your elected officials, that now is not the time to cut funds to our limited mental health system." The justice system does an especially poor job handling these cases, but in the present environment where there aren't adequate mental health services for seriously troubled youth, too often that's where the responsibility falls.

7 comments:

Jami said...

Amen. In the prison program I work for, it's full of mentally ill inmates. On my pod, in particular, I sincerely question why some even had to be in prison in the first place. Not only does our mental health system fail young people in trouble, it fails adults with mental illness, as well. The reality is that prison has become a mental illness dumping ground.

JSN said...

A psychiatric hospital has both voluntary and involuntary admissions. Involuntary admissions are subject to judicial review but there is no judicial review for releases from psychiatric hospitals. If they want to release a potentially dangerous patient there is no way to stop them.

A jail has admit almost everyone (there are a few special exceptions) and in general they can only release on a release order, a transfer of custody or expiration of sentence.

In other words a jail has no effective way to exclude the mentally ill. Once they admit a mentally ill prisoner they can try to divert them to MH treatment services and in favorable cases that works.

The attitude in some prisons is they are dealing with prisoners that happen to be mentally ill and in prisons with better training and the right leadership they are responsible for mentally ill persons that happen to be prisoners. That is a profound difference.

The practical problem is that it may not be possible to separate the mentally ill prisoners from the general population. I feel very sorry for the staff and prisoners caught in that situation.

Anonymous said...

When the State Legislator took away sooo! much money from State Hospitals and closed so very many, that is when the prison over crowding really began. There are many mentally ill people in prison and do not receive treatment, after all, Texas does not realize treatment can help many mentally ill persons who can return to a full life with medication and being in prison only accentuates the problems of those already mentally ill.

Until our Legislators wake up and realize there are many in prisons who do not need to be there whether due to the crooked Judicial System or the lack of care of mentally/physically ill people, the system will continue to drain the State of money that could be used else where for much better go.

Take down names and the next time you vote, remove some of those who make a career of being in public office and do not care about the lives of humans ill or innocent.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember a liberal outcry about wanting to keep "mentally challenged" people back into the community. Works great for those that can abide by the law with a little help, but it was crazy to think all the people with mental illness could be kept "free". So do not blame the "crooked Judicial system". What a joke that statement was...

Anonymous said...

TDCJ warehouses for the mentally deficient, such as the Sky View and Boyd units, don't even have the capability of helping their inmates dodge type 2 diabetes by using low sugar, low carbohydrate diets, thus guaranteeing that Texas taxpayers will pay millions in future medical costs for something that could have been avoided. Yee Haa you rough and tough Texans, suck it up because your stupidity will empty your wallets.

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